Approximately 250 people from across Cal Poly’s campus and the San Luis Obispo community showed up at Chumash Auditorium on Saturday for the annual Change the Status Quo conference, where attendees shared new ideas on current social issues and discussed a student’s role in shaping future society.
Cal Poly alumna and keynote speaker Danny Kim began the conference with a motivational speech for attendees before sending them off to attend four rounds of workshops in 24 different topics.
“Our greatest strengths are millimeters away from our greatest weaknesses,” Kim said.
Kim provided an ongoing workshop throughout the eight-hour long conference, titled “Practicing your Art: Identifying and Utilizing your Strengths.”
“I was invited because people can’t change the status quo until they understand themselves deeply,” he said. “You can either use your strengths to serve yourself, or a cause greater than you.”
Kim graduated in 2009 with a degree in biological sciences, but realized quickly upon graduation that his talent lie in public communication.
“I really enjoy helping people understand themselves,” Kim said. “I got excited about just looking at these people and knowing they are gonna be future world changers.”
Those “future world changers” could be anyone — from the conference attendees to the event’s organizers.
The conference is put on every year by six director coordinators from Student Community Services who institute a strict application process for presenters in order to give attendees the tools they need to make changes in their lives. This year’s pick, Kim, was a great one for the 11th annual conference, they said.
“He can make you feel special and like you have the strength within yourself to change the world,” psychology senior and director coordinator Connor McGill said.
Kim was also well-received among attendees.
Business administration sophomore Jessica Carter said she enjoyed attending Kim’s workshop the most, which provided attendees with a strength-finding test meant to measure a person’s instinctual response.
“I wasn’t too excited about it at first, but that test actually describes me,” Carter said. “The topics were very diverse and all the speakers seem like they are all very passionate. I’m glad I went.”
Some of the vast array of workshops were presented by members of the community including the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden and the San Luis Obispo County Bicycle Coalition, while others were put on by students and clubs from campus.
“I learned as much about myself as I did the presentations,” graphic communication junior Kayla Caballero said.
Caballero said she enjoyed the “Intersecting Identities” workshop the most, which was presented by Ariana Chini, a student assistant for the Gender Equity Center.
“What I took away was addressing the different ways you conduct yourself in situations and how that affects the way you see yourself,” Caballero said. “You’re one way in school and another in personal relationships — it was great to see the similarities and differences, and that other people struggle balancing personal identities.”
Chini, an English and theater arts junior, said the workshop was meant to focus on the scholarly views of identity and how much they leave out.
“They really focus on ethnicity, gender and sexuality,” Chini said. “As a human being, you are so much more than those three things.”
Physics sophomore Brandon Tao said he enjoyed the diversity of options at the conference.
“I think the goal of the conference is to introduce students to new ways of thinking and new issues that are relevant to us, and I think they did a good job of that,” Tao said.
Tao said his favorite workshop was “Start By Believing,” which discussed ways to deal with people who experienced sexual assault.
The conference concluded with a resource fair for all attendees and presenters.
Director coordinator and biological sciences senior Amanda Muzzio said the conversational nature of the workshops contributed to the conference’s success.
“Everyone is contributing to this topic by bringing their own backgrounds into the conversation,” Muzzio said.